Home Science Biology Girls face bias from teachers in math

The idea that girls don't do well at math is a myth, at least according to data collected by a team of American researchers. In fact, the problem is not with girls and their ability to do math, but with a perceived bias against these girls by their teachers.

The team of researchers analyzed data from across the United States within the Educational Longitudinal Study (2002).

According to the data, teachers rate the mathematical abilities of white girls lower than that of white boys. And, this lower rating was very apparent even when test scores and grades were comparable between the young females and males.

The 4/9/12 MSBNC article Girls face a tough math problem: Teacher bias quoted Catherine Riegle-Crumb and Melissa Humphries, the authors of the article that appears in the April 2012 issue of the journal Gender and Society.

The two researchers, from the University of Texas (Austin) state, 'We find evidence of a consistent bias against white females, which although relatively small in magnitude, suggests that teachers hold the belief that math is just easier for white males than it is for white females.'

Dr. Riegle-Crumb adds, "The bias teachers reveal against white female students may very well be something they are not consciously aware of, but it's usually subtle. But it's definitely present, per our research findings."

The article in the journal Gender and Society is entitled 'Exploring Bias in Math Teachers' Perceptions of Students' Ability by Gender and Race/Ethnicity.' (April 2012; vol. 26, 2: pp. 290-322., first published on March 2, 2012)

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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University